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Facebook Changes Privacy Policies, Scraps User Voting 119

Orome1 writes "The voting period for the proposed changes to Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and Data Use Policy has ended on Monday, and despite the email sent out to the users asking them to review the changes and cast their vote, less than one percent of all users have done so. 'An external auditor has reviewed and confirmed the final results. Of the 668,872 people who voted, 589,141 recommended we keep our existing SRR and Data Use Policy,' stated Elliot Schrage, Facebook's vice president of communications, public policy, and marketing. Still, that is not nearly enough to prevent the proposed changes — as required by Facebook, at least 30 percent of the users should have voted against them in order to keep the previous versions of the policies. Schrage pointed out that that the whole experience illustrated the clear value of Facebook's notice and comment process."

Why Would a Mouse Need To Connect To the Internet? 249

jbrodkin writes "In this hyper-connected, networked world, many more of our devices are getting linked to the cloud, whether we want them to or not. That's sometimes good, and sometimes bad, so when a basic device like a mouse requires a user to go online and set up an account to activate all of its functionality, people are understandably going to ask why? The latest entry in the saga of 'Why the hell does this thing need to connect to the Internet?' comes from Razer, which has caused an uproar by asking users to register gaming mice on the Internet. While it's mainly for syncing settings across devices, gamers are complaining that certain functionality might not be available unless you create an online account for your mouse. Razer has responded to the controversy, but its answers aren't entirely satisfactory."

Will Microsoft Dis-Kinect Freeloading TV Viewers? 478

theodp writes "Just when you think the cable TV viewing experience couldn't get any worse, GeekWire reports on the Microsoft Xbox Incubation team's patent-pending Consumer Detector, which uses cameras and sensors like those in the Xbox 360 Kinect controller to monitor, count and in some cases identify the people in a room watching television, movies and other content. Should the number of viewers detected exceed the limits of a particular content license, the system would halt playback unless additional viewing rights were purchased."

Google Patents Profit-Maximizing Dynamic Pricing 294

theodp writes "A newly-granted Google patent on Dynamic Pricing of Electronic Content describes how information gleaned from your search history and social networking activity can be used against you by providing tell-tale clues for your propensity to pay jacked-up prices to 'reconsume' electronic content, such as 'watching a video recording, reading an electronic book, playing a game, or listening to an audio recording.' The patent is illustrated with drawings showing how some individuals can be convinced to pay 4x what others will be charged for the same item. From the patent: 'According to one innovative aspect of the subject matter described by this specification, a system may use this information to tailor the price that is offered to the particular user to repurchase the particular item of electronic content. By not applying discounts for users that may, in relation to a typical user, be more inclined to repurchase a particular product, profits may increase.' Hey, wasn't this kind of dynamic pricing once considered evil?"
XBox (Games)

The Ugly, Profitable Details About Xbox Live Advertising 204

An anonymous reader writes "In an editorial at Penny Arcade, Ben Kuchera writes about how Microsoft's subscription-based Xbox Live platform has become an advertising cash cow — to the detriment of users who already pay for the service. Quoting: 'People who don't play video games would be forgiven if they turned on an Xbox 360 and didn't realize it was a device used to primarily play games. The first screen you see on the Xbox 360 Dashboard is often a mixture of ads for all sorts of goods and services, and many times games are in the minority of ad slots. The latest redesign increased the ad space that can be sold to advertisers, and that in turn increased this problem. Let's be clear, it is a problem. Game discovery is terrible in the current design of Xbox Live, and the usability of a system that used to be about games is suffering in order for Microsoft to make money on ads. Sadly, this issue isn't going away: Ad sales simply bring in too much money to ignore, and revenue is growing. ... I contacted Microsoft and asked how much advertising revenue impacted the profitability of the Xbox 360. "We don't share this information publicly but we can tell you that, since 2010, the advertising business has grown 142%," I was told.'"

Advertisers Co-Opting The Lorax With Half-Truths About Conservation 265

pigrabbitbear writes with an interesting opinion on the "green" marketing surrounding The Lorax movie adaptation. From the article: "There may be all kinds of reasons to defend the Lorax — Dr. Seuss's wondrous children's fable that's also a seminal book about conservation — from the wrath of Lou Dobbs and Fox News and others to whom the children's book-turned-Disney film is little more than liberal propaganda. ... For adults dealing with the real world of compromise, the Lorax is loved and hated for being such a ridiculously staunch environmentalist. Dude refuses to give an inch, which isn’t realistic, but certainly makes him a compelling character. That character is now being used as a shill for the CX-5, a small SUV that’s being billed as fuel-efficient and eco-friendly. What has the poor Lorax become?"

A Copyright Nightmare 411

New submitter forkfail writes "If further proof were needed that copyright law was out of control in the U.S., it can be found in the fact that it costs 10 dollars to view Martin Luther King's famous Dream Speech. You might think you could find it on YouTube or other public venues, given its importance in American history. But no — the rights are firmly locked away until 2038."

Verizon Backtracks On $2 Convenience Fee 281

Velcroman1 writes with a followup to yesterday's news that Verizon would be implementing a $2 'convenience fee' for certain online and phone-based bill payments. In addition to dealing with outrage from customers, Verizon also felt resistance from the Federal Communications Commission, who decided they would investigate the matter. Today, in a brief press release, Verizon announced that they've canceled their plans for the new fee in response to customer feedback.

Sony Sued Over PSN 'No Suing' Provision 384

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from the Examiner: "In a grand dose of irony today, Sony was sued over a term in the PlayStation Network's End User Agreement that states that users cannot sue Sony. These terms were added in September, after a long string of Sony hacks (the official count is that Sony got broken into 17 times in a space of about 2 months), which included a massive outage of the PlayStation Network itself. The suit that was filed today is a class action suit for all of those who bought a PS3 and signed up for the PSN before the September update to the EULA. The suit also claims that this is a unfair Business practice on Sony's part, and requires users to forgo their rights in order to use the device that they purchased."
Facebook Now Only With Facebook and Own Login 127

CptnHarlock writes "Today the registered users of received an email informing them that the site has ended support for Yahoo, Twitter, Google, or LinkedIn as a way to sign into their site. Facebook is the sole external way left to log in. A local login and password were generated and sent by email and the old (non-Facebook) logins deactivated. Score another one for in the login consolidation wars."

Ron Paul Wants To End the Federal Student Loan Program 1797

On the heels of declaring his intent to axe a few departments from the federal government, Ron Paul has revealed more plans should he become President. The_THOMAS writes "Ron Paul wants to end Federal student loans stating that the Government involvement artificially inflates the cost of a college education and that once the government is out of the situation, students will be able to work their way to a college degree. What do you think?"

Investors Campaign To Oust Murdochs From News Corp 150

Hugh Pickens writes "Alan Mutter writes that the California Public Employees Retirement System, the nation's largest pension fund, has become the latest investor to say it would vote against the re-election of Rupert Murdoch and his sons to the company's board of directors, joining several other institutional investors opposed to the tenure of not only the Murdoch trio but also most of the rest of the leader's hand-picked board. 'The company appears to have devolved into a free-wheeling, cut-throat and paranoid culture that reached its logical conclusion in the phone-hacking scandal at The News of the World, where deceit and naked ambition trumped common decency, good judgment and even simple compliance with the law,' writes Mutter... Further proof of the anything-goes atmosphere at News Corp was supplied last week when the Guardian reported that ... the European edition of the Wall Street Journal evidently sold access to its news columns and created back-channel payment networks to lift the otherwise sagging circulation of the paper... 'It's not clear whether the outside shareholders have the votes to change anything at a corporation where Murdoch effectively controls 40% of the shares,' concludes Mutter, 'But adult supervision most certainly is in order, because News Corp. seems to be operating with only the sketchiest of business plans and no effective executive oversight of his many far-flung initiatives. '"

Verizon Wireless Changes Privacy Policy 204

First time accepted submitter flash2011 writes "Recently Verizon changed its home internet TOS to by default share your location with advertisers. Now Verizon Wireless has also changed its privacy policy to by default share your web browsing history, cell phone location and app usage as well. Whilst there have been a few stories on these changes, internet forums have largely been quiet. Where is the outrage? Or have we just come to accept that ISPs are going to sell our personal information and web browsing habits?"

IRS Auditing Google 328

theodp writes "Bloomberg reports that the IRS is auditing how Google shifted profits offshore to avoid taxes. According to Bloomberg, Google cuts its tax bill by about $1 billion a year using a technique that allocates profits to a unit managed out of a law firm in Bermuda, where there is no corporate income tax. In 2009, the most recent year for which records are available, this subsidiary collected 4.34 billion euros (about $6.1 billion) in royalties from a Google unit in the Netherlands. A spokesman for Google, whose stated mission is 'to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful,' called the IRS probe 'a routine inquiry' and declined to comment further."

Facebook: the Law Says You Can't Have Your Data 165

An anonymous reader writes "After making 22 complaints regarding Facebook's various practices, the Austrian group Europe versus Facebook stumbled upon an important tidbit: Facebook says it is not required to give you a copy of some of your personal data if it deems doing so would adversely affect its trade secrets or intellectual property. I followed up with Facebook and learned the company insists the law places 'reasonable limits' on the data that has to be provided."

A fanatic is a person who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. - Winston Churchill